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The Honolulu Advertiser

By Leslie Kawamoto

Posted on: Sunday, January 17, 2010

No-nonsense prosecutor's a softy on pets

 • Adoptables
Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

City prosecutor Peter Carlisle and family daughter Aspen, son Benson and wife Judy love their cats.

Photos courtesy Carlisles

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

The 1996 photo by Stan Wright that ran in Pets and People in Paradise.

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Most people know Peter Carlisle as the city's prosecuting attorney and a current mayoral candidate. He's known for his tough stand on crime and his no-nonsense attitude.

Most of us don't know that this "man of the law" is also an animal lover.

Carlisle has a soft spot for pets. This year I saw him at the annual Hawaiian Humane Society's Pet Walk in October giving dogs loving pats on the head and talking to pet owners at the Hawaii Pet Film Festival in November.

When Carlisle first ran for city prosecutor in 1996, a local pet newspaper called Pets and People in Paradise did a feature story on him and his family. The cover photo showed a young Carlisle, daughter Aspen, son Benson and wife Judy sitting on the couch with two very lucky cats: Sassy and Leela. Carlisle's hair and moustache were a lot darker back then!

Aspen is in law school at the University of Kentucky and Benson attends Michigan State University, but Peter and Judy Carlisle still have the company of their cats.

Each cat has a different personality, as diverse as their colors.

Leela, possibly a Russian blue because of her gorgeous coloring, has been with the Carlisle family for more than 16 years, a gift from a neighbor. A year after Leela moved in, Sassy, a tan tabby the largest of the three, weighing in at 13 pounds was rescued by Judy when a neighbor couldn't keep her.

The family's newest addition, Nugget, a stray calico, charmed Carlisle by rubbing against his legs while he was doing yardwork, showing her complete adoration. Carlisle used his best courtroom pleading to convince the family to adopt her. When Nugget became an official Carlisle, the cat abandoned him for Judy, but he's weathered the rejection well.

The cats live a happy existence, although there was some commotion several years ago. Leela likes to open cabinet doors and then lets them bang shut loudly. Leela got so good at it she would do it all the time, especially when the Carlisles were asleep.

"This continued until Judy or I would wake up and pay her the attention she so obviously deserved. This attempt to train us required corrective measures involving a water pistol at which point Leela decided to let sleeping Carlisles lie," said Carlisle. Perhaps Leela knew if she kept it up, she'd receive a harsh sentence from her no-nonsense dad.

Carlisle has seen laws regarding animal cruelty get tougher since he's been the city prosecutor.

In 2006, Porky, a pig and family pet, was killed at its family's Mililani lychee farm. Joseph Carruda, a man already on parole for firearms violations and for kidnapping a family member, chased the pet pig into the garage. He then stabbed Porky and cut the animal into pieces. Carruda was charged with second-degree theft because there were no felony animal cruelty laws back then.

A year later, two Moanalua golf course workers stole an 8-month-old puppy named Caddy from the course, took it home and ate it. By that time, a new animal cruelty law had been enacted. Cruelty to animals in the first degree is a criminal offense.

Anyone who intentionally or knowingly tortures, mutilates or poisons any pet animal or equine animal resulting in serious injury or death may receive up to five years in prison, probation or a fine up to $10,000.

Both of the golf course workers were charged with first-degree animal cruelty. Nelson Domingo was sentenced to three months in jail, fined $500 and had to do 300 hours of community service. The other defendant, Saturno Palting, was sentenced to 400 hours of community service and three years' probation.

In the case against Kirk Lankford, who was convicted of killing Masumi Watanabe, the parole board was allowed to consider his brutal slaughter of cats before harming Watanabe when setting the 150-year jail term, Carlisle said.

And Carlisle's not done.

"In whatever position I hold with the city, I will continue to promote, encourage and enforce the humane and legal treatment of animals," he said.

Animal lover Leslie Kawamoto has been with the Advertiser for 19 years, or 133 in dog years. Check out her blog at http://islandtails.honadvblogs.com.